"Confusion on the Mantel"
It is difficult to... document... my last... dictate of New England Antiquarian fireplace mantel ‘old china’ decorum (Part One). Considering Canary Lustre’s ...habitual... deferment to... AND... stoic yet ‘off radar’ flagged mountain top poise in Colonial Home New England... this ‘elegance and taste’...; it (documentation) should be around: Until one reminds that I speak of the ‘before smart phone cameras’ vantage of the New England. Et al. It (Canary on the mantel) is ‘old school’. It once was one’s mother but now is one’s grandmother’s... doings. IF she is still alive. Oh do not worry; the Canary on the mantel was STILL THERE when she ‘died’. It was only your stupid little sister who
Threw it out?
Or did she...
And knows what it is?
She has it on HER mantel in HER Colonial New England home... “up there... in WHERE ...New Hampshire?”. That is what happens to the stuff (“Canary”); it moves to another mantel... and NOT to the CENTER of that mantel. Yes... dear... it (“Canary”) has not
I will say that it is probably more ‘safe’ and ‘valued’ than it has ever been. It is just a little hard to notice if one is not... traveling in those circles’
Did I just say your friends and their gatherings of domestic china are tawdry?
I may have... if ...well... we’ll leave it there for the moment.
I looked around for a mantel and its canary. To show you. I found something that does. From a well regarded Maine dealer and collector’ collection sale I find nearly satisfactory demonstration of ‘Canary’ in the (old) New England (Maine) home... collected (and here sold) in the (old school) New England way.
The whole collection was a superior lifetime gathering of classic Maine and New England decorative arts (antiques). Positioned with little notice I find three examples of hand painted canary lustre ‘soft paste’; three on the ‘mantle pieces’. The three specimens ARE photographed on the mantel AND are posed on that mantel off center. The qualifier is that this is a ‘posed’ for the catalog. They are, and should be noted, correct as a posed. This, oddly, shows how deep the etiquette is for it is a subconscious ‘default’ pose that IS the correct pose for the ‘those that know’’ and... THAT is the those this catalog and collection sale ‘is for’ (directed at). So.... it gets there (off center on the mantel) the long way around...
And is supported by the collection itself. What that means is that a curious dark edge of Canary-on-the-mantel... is that the (old school) (very knowledgeable) dealer – collector has... in fact... very little ‘other (antique) china’ in their hoard. That is right: Very little else. The best (easiest) notice of this is that there is, in most cases, ...no... “dark blue” (deep blue English Staffordshire earthenware pictorial or historical transferware). Most all ‘antiques collectors’ agree that the ‘dark blue’ is of ‘keeper’ grade merit for one’s hoard.
Of notice is that the Canary-on-the-mantel crowd maintain a ‘step beyond’ poise that is a feeling... “correct” (I agree)... that their ‘Canary’ ‘one piece’ on the mantel, explains fully their understanding of old china in an old New England antiquarian’s hoard to the “anyone” who ‘does know’. And: That these in-the-know... be the only ones who ‘need know’... where an antiquarian’s old New England home’s collection
One .... piece of true hand painted Canary DOES say it all about one... and all... old china... in old New England and its homes.
It is just fine to not agree. WE... (I too)... don’t care what you feel... let alone ‘think’.
Back within the catalog, the three lots are photographed ‘close up’ too and... they sell (each) for ‘a lot’ ($400 plus each). They sell to like minded collector – dealers ‘who know’... too. Never have I seen a lay person’s bid card ‘held up’ for ‘old canary’. No... the stuff (Canary lustre) always... only... sells ...to the ‘they know’. And shown in this catalog.. is all of that at work. That includes my further notice that most.... MOST... of the Those People who I would consider adept at participation in this sale would, too, NOT HAVE NOTICED “the Canary”. Do not fear: It WAS noticed.
For this ‘most’ ‘participation’ group that I speak of, their principal contribution to “Canary” is to always acknowledge ‘it’ and, most often, express that it... is a “IT... SELLS FOR A LOT”. But: They... never... ever... “owned a piece”.
So they are, although “good” antiquarians
A rung or three DOWN
On the ladder of the
“old New England”.
That should be the nasty part: Simple snotty antiquarians having a superior aura because they have a single old beat up yellow sugar bowl on the far end of their Colonial fireplace mantel that is never mentioned, never talked about, noticed, touched, dusted or washed “ever” for ...the half century of their ownership. I have spent my fifty years pursuing Canary Lustre without ever talking about it to anyone. I, too, ‘have found it’. The sale collection’s three piece gathering is ...just about right... for what one may chance to find (three pieces) in one’s life time as an (New England) antiquarian. I have found a little more... but... not much
The stuff is... rare.
That gives us three points for confusion.
The first point is that being rare... one has a hard time finding a specimen to “buy”. With a finding ratio of three pieces to fifty years one may ‘take the hint’. Finally... and usually suddenly... one finds a specimen, buys it and so... has one. “There”. “Finally”. Take it home and put it on the mantel. Off to the side. No one notices it. It is twelve months before someone does and comments but THAT PERSON has been ‘in the trade’ longer than you have and is... “very knowledgeable”. THAT becomes point of confusion point two.
YOU... have... NOT ever... “ahhhh....” compared “a piece” with another “a piece”... that YOU... OR ANY ONE ELSE... “HAS”... including color photographs in old auction catalogs (Part One). TOO. NO... you have not.
That deceptive minor (?) issue WILL bite one’s buttock if one... is too ‘sure’ of self with the ‘I FOUND ONE’ canary. This is because the “quality” of the decoration on the yellow ground... “ahhhh....” “varies”. Simply, some are more vibrant and radically decorated than others. Meaning some have (much) “MORE” decoration “better done” (more radical and vibrant). You... do not know this... until... you see this with your eyes yourself: YOU learn by seeing it (the variation of radical / vibrant decoration). In stupid lay terms this means the more wild (accomplished) the decoration the MORE MONEY IT’S WORTH.
So.... ‘knowing this’ is.. “crucial” commercially and... art wise personally (“My Preference”). And again: Your not gonna know this until you know... you have seen this.
Further confusing this second point of confusion is the need to understand how this decoration that is “more wild”... is “accomplished”. It is a backward and redundant process that the collector must absorb to understand what one is looking for as better-best radical/vibrant decoration. Understand then:
These ...mold cast and yellow ground “blanks” were hand paint decorated... in a similar ‘ritualized’ decoration... by a woman painting it on ‘them’... all day long, forever, among other women doing the same. So... one may expect ‘variation’ in ‘qualities’ on ALL decoration. Starting with ‘skill’ and ‘ability’... one opens the door to variation. Next come mood, care, interest. These go to day, weather, time. Then on to interactions and interruptions (“the toilet” too). Quickly one denotes... quite a stew... I’ve just made and it (all of this) is being expressed in the application of paint from a single tiny brush... by one single woman... “NOW”. When done...
The next one
So... for example... a good painter... (“very good”) may well work the decoration of a single ‘waste bowl’ for a ‘longer time’ because she... wants to ‘finish’ just at lunch time. Meanwhile the eight year old “new girl” beside her ‘can barely paint’... yet. There is the simple source of variation. WHOSE decoration is the more “wild” when examined TWO HUNDRED YEARS LATER?
This is not at all hard to note and notice... once one knows to do this. It also brings us to the
Need to examine
NOT HAND PAINTED
The ‘decorated by transfer’...: The third point of confusion... on the mantel